Football Features

Emiliano Martinez’s meteoric and magnificent rise is fully deserved

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 13:16, 7 October 2020

It’s been a long time coming, but finally Emiliano Martinez is a starting goalkeeper in the Premier League.

Not playing a few games because of injury, not part of a goalkeeping controversy as a star stopper is making their way back to fitness or struggling with form. Emiliano Martinez is an undisputed starting goalkeeper in the Premier League at Aston Villa.

The Argentine signed for Villa just before the start of the 2020/21 season for a fee of £20m. His departure was not a surprise as Arsenal showed their faith the now fit against Bernd Leno, the only question was where he would end up.

That ended up being Aston Villa, and he has begun life in the Midlands quite superbly with three wins out of three and two clean sheets to boot. Villa can boast the best defensive record in the Premier League having conceded just two goals (and those came in a more than comfortable 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool).

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Martinez has had to fight for everything he’s got. He signed for Arsenal as a teenager in 2010, but over the course of the next eight seasons he barely played, often being third-choice between the sticks. As a result he had no fewer than six different loan spells over the years, mostly in England but once in La Liga with Getafe.

He always looked a solid stopper, but it was his ascension to temporary starter for Arsenal in the wake of Bernd Leno’s injury that saw him suddenly show his class. The Argentine was a pillar in goal for the Gunners as they powered their way to FA Cup glory off the back of a phenomenal clean sheet in the semi-final against Manchester City and an impressive display in the final too.

Martinez followed that up by helping Arsenal win the Community Shield in his very next game for the Gunners. Two wins and two trophies in his final two games for Arsenal before departing a hero. That’s the stuff that dreams are made of, especially when a player has had to work as hard and honestly as Martinez has done.

Emiliano Martinez’s Football Index value in his first month as an Aston Villa player.

No one begrudged him the move to Villa, and he’s fit in perfectly there in a defence led by the rugged Tyrone Mings. Aston Villa show no quarter and Martinez’s towering presence adds to the intimidation factor opponents must feel when they come face-to-face with the Villa back-line (that also features the superb Ezri Konsa).

In his three games as Villa starter, Martinez has 2 clean sheets and 2 goals conceded. He also has made 9 saves, including one from a penalty (which was his first-ever save for Villa). Martinez uses his size and stature to dominate his area, coming to catch a league-high 5 crosses.

Furthermore, Martinez is one of just two (with Karl Darlow) starting stoppers in the Premier League to have conceded fewer goals than his XGTC (Expected goals on target conceded) value of 3.41, which measures how many goals he should concede based on the quality of shots he is facing. So Martinez is not just making saves, he’s making great saves to deny great shots.

And to cap it all off, to complete this incredible journey for Emiliano Martinez, he has now been called up for the Argentina national team. With his rock solid form and titanic stature, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t start and continue to start into 2021’s Copa América and, as long as his form with Aston Villa remains high (and there’s no reason it won’t) even the 2022 World Cup.

After years and years of slow build, of keeping his head down and working hard as others passed him in the pecking order, Emiliano Martinez’s rise from obscure back-up to international starter has been meteoric and magnificent.